Erwin Isaacs has come a long way since making his PSL debut on the right wing for Santos as a raw but highly talented 16-year-old. Now, 14 years later, believe it or not, he’s playing at right back for Ajax Cape Town.
Things change, that’s for sure. But, if there’s one thing that doesn’t change for Isaacs, it’s the ability, the passion and the absolute joy of playing the game he loves so much.
Tonight, Ajax host Bloemfontein Celtic in a PSL fixture at the Athlone Stadium, with the Capetonians focused on securing a top eight finish to what has been a rather erratic season.
“I’m enjoying myself at right back,” said Isaacs. “As long as we win games and keep clean sheets, I am happy. I used to be scoring goals, now I am keeping clean sheets. But credit to the coach (Stanley Menzo), I’ve learned a lot from him.
“The win over Highlands Park last month was crucial, and things started to fall into place after that. We are a unit, we are all working hard, and doing extra training. Training has been good this week.”
Ajax coach Menzo was just happy that he and his squad are able to breathe much easier after their three recent wins (Highlands, Platinum Stars and Chippa United). After a torrid opening to the year, things have finally turned for the better.
“Yes, it hasn’t been a good season, certainly not a perfect season, but we are doing well considering where we came from,” said Menzo. “It has been up and down up this season, but we kept on working hard and stayed together.
“I expect Celtic to have a go at us, they are doing well at the moment. We have to make sure that we win at home, because that will give us a lot of confidence for the final two games of the season – Orlando Pirates (away) and Baroka FC (home).
“We never switched off at Chippa (in the previous game) and we won’t switch off against Celtic as well.”
The U20 World Cup starts in South Korea later this month and Ajax have three players in the SA squad: Grant Margeman, Masilakhe Phohlongo and Shane Saralina.
With Wits and SuperSport United not releasing Phakamani Mahlambi and Teboho Mokoena respectively to the U20s, because the players are needed by their clubs, a case could probably have been made for Ajax to try to hang on to sensational 18-year-old Margeman.
“We are very proud of the three players that will play at the World Cup,” said Menzo. “We couldn’t deny Margeman the chance to play at the World Cup. I remember, as a player, I missed out on such an opportunity because of injury.”
Isaacs, as a senior player in the Ajax squad, has been feeding the emerging young stars with valuable information about making their way in the sport.
“I speak a lot to Grant, he is my roommate on away trips,” said Isaacs. “I told him that he can go very far in the game.”
Saturday’s PSL fixtures
Golden Arrows v Baroka FC; Polokwane City v Kaizer Chiefs; Ajax Cape Town v Bloemfontein Celtic (Athlone Stadium, 8.15pm)